The governments of Nigeria and the Russian Federation have signed an agreement paving the way for the construction of a nuclear center in Nigeria.
The memorandum of understanding was signed by the director of Russia’s Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation, Sergey Kirienko, and the chairman of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, Erepano Osaisai at the 2016 ATOM Expo in Moscow.
After signing the agreement, Mr. Osaisai stated that the Nigerian government wanted to acquire nuclear technology in order to provide the country with clean energy and improve citizens’ access to electricity.
The nuclear chairman added that while the project would be expensive, Nigeria could not afford to miss out on the opportunity to improve its energy infrastructure.
“Nuclear acquisition has come to stay. It is well known that it contributes quite a chunk of global electricity.
“Nigeria does have other sources of energy, but this is about a balanced and diversified energy basket. Nuclear happens to be the one we considered,” Mr. Osaisai said.
He added that nuclear energy is environmentally friendly and its use would allow Nigeria to conserve other energy sources.
SaharaReporters reached out to John Campbell, the Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, for comment.
“Nigeria’s power-generating capacity is low. It has only one-thirtieth of the capacity that South Africa has. Diversifying the sources of energy would make sense,” he said.
Whether or not nuclear power would provide a viable alternative to petroleum and other sources of energy in Nigeria would depend on the size and type of the nuclear center, Mr. Campbell added.
The agreement between the two countries also represents both parties’ interest in improving bilateral relations.
“Bilateral cooperation between Nigeria and Russia is blessed with huge potential in every avenue,” said Nikolay Udovichenko, Russian Ambassador to Nigeria.
“Nuclear energy development is another area with good prospects for our two countries.”
The ambassador added that Russia is seeking to promote more trade between the two countries.
News of this development comes two months after President Muhammadu Buhari attended the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C.